Why You Can't Afford to Follow the eBay Herd
By Steve Nye, eBay Certified Consultant and HammerTap Education Specialist
eBay publishes a report on how buyers use eBay. I found some interesting
facts in it I think you'll find exciting. I won't make you wade
through the whole report. I'll skip right to the meat.
I found great news for eBay sellers. Just over one third of all
Internet users in the U.S. visit eBay each month! No other eCommerce
site can say that. The top month of the report showed nearly 60
million monthly visitors to eBay. That's a lot of buyers.
Visitors spend more time on eBay than on competitor sites. The
report showed an average of up to 110 minutes spent per visitor
every month! The closest competitor was amazon.com at 30 minutes
per month. And typically, where people spend their time they spend
their money too.
Who's using eBay? You might think since the younger generation
has taken to the Internet like fish to water that they'd make up
much of those on eBay. Not so. Only 7% of eBay visitors are between
18 and 24 years old. A whopping 76% of eBay visitors are 35 or
If They've Got It, They Can Spend It
Here's where I was blown away. I assumed a large portion of the
folks buying on eBay were bargain-hunters. While that may be
true, it isn't because eBay shoppers don't make good money.
Only 5% of eBay shoppers make $25,000 per year or less! 41% of
eBay shoppers make more than $75,000 per year! With that kind of
income, it's no secret that you'd spend more than those who earn
less. eBay shoppers make way above average income. Great news for
those selling on eBay.
Which Generalizations Can Cost You?
In this report eBay also tells you the heaviest traffic days are
on Sundays and Mondays. It's their data, so I'm sure it's accurate.
But here's the problem.
They make the conclusion that since there's more traffic on Sunday
and Monday, you should time your listings to end on one of those
days. If I didn't know about auction research, I'd have to go with
Let's Test eBay's Conclusion
Let's see if eBay's generalization about closing on a Sunday or
Monday holds for various products. I picked quite literally the
first three things that came to my mind: sony televisions, hoover
vacuums, and plush toys.
Figure1: Sony Televisions
In Figure 1 above, we see that eBay's advice to end
your auction on a Sunday or Monday improves your chance to
sell (Auction Success Rate). Closing on Monday results in
the best Auction Success Rate.
However, if you're one of us who wants to make more on the
products you sell (and who doesn't), take another look. The
Average Selling Price (ASP) on Monday is actually the WORST
day to sell price-wise.
Closing your auction on Thursday actually would have made
you $218 more on average! And it didn't cost you one dime
more in listing fees. Without auction research, you'd have
never known you cheated yourself out of over two hundred
Figure 2: Hoover Vacuums
Figure 2 above shows how here again eBay's
advice pays off in the best Auction Success Rate. This time
around, Sunday ranks best for maximizing your
chance to sell.
But again, closing on Sunday isn't your best day for
price. Closing on Saturday increases the selling price by $39.7%.
You make a bonus $15.92 on every item. Again, the only difference
was in simply knowing more than your competition.
Let's look at one last product. Where the first two examples
were electronic appliances, I wanted to pick something as
different as possible. I picked plush toys.
Figure 3: Plush Toys
In Figure 3 we see a case where closing on
Sunday or Monday not only are among the worst days for Average
Selling Price, but also among the worst for Auction Success
day worse than Sunday or Monday for Auction Success Rate
was Wednesday. With plush toys, we're only talking about
$2.24 difference between the best and worst price.
But let's say you find a source for a hundred plush toys
you want to sell on eBay. That's $224 more you'd make using
So am I saying not to trust eBay's conclusions? Absolutely not.
I'm just saying that you have to put it in context. They make their
conclusions based on everything from toasters to BMW's.
If you didn't know about auction research, you'd be crazy not
to follow their advice. After all, they're auction experts. But
with auction research as your guide, you don't have to rely on
rules of thumb and generic advice which can steal your
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real data, Kathy may get an extra dollar or two for the boots and
bears. She may make as much as ten dollars more for the calculator.
And it only took a couple of minutes to earn several bonus dollars.
If she earns an extra dollar or two per minute for the research
she does, that sounds like a pretty great wage to me.
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